SOUTHWICK, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts
woman who inadvertently threw away a $1 million lottery
ticket was able to collect her prize thanks to the kindness
and honesty of the store owners.
Lea Rose Fiega
purchased the $30 Diamond Millions scratch-off ticket in March at the Lucky Stop convenience store in Southwick, which is close to her workplace
“I was in a hurry, on my lunch break, and just scratched it real quick, looked at it, and it didn’t look like a winner, so I handed it over to them to throw away,” she explained on Monday.
For ten days, the ticket was hidden behind the counter.
“One evening, I was going through the trash tickets and discovered that she didn’t scratch the number,” Abhi Shah
, the store’s son, told WWLP-TV. “I scratched the number and it was $1 million underneath the ticket.”
Fiega is a regular customer, so the family recognized who had thrown it away right away.
Shah went to Fiega's workplace to see what he was up to.
“He came to my office and said, ‘My Mom and Dad would like to see you,’” she explained. “I said, ‘I’m working,’ and he said, ‘no you have to come over.’ So I went over there, and that’s when they told me. I was in complete disbelief. I cried, I hugged them.”
Fiega described overcoming a near-fatal bout with COVID-19
in January as "winning the lottery," so she considers herself doubly lucky.
“I mean, who does that? They’re wonderful people
, and I am truly blessed,” she explained.
The state lottery commission
awards the store a $10,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket, which Fiega said she gave to the family in addition to the $10,000 bonus, with the remainder saved for retirement.